Ford was big business in Dallas in the early years. Henry Ford opened a two man sales office on Commerce across from the present location of the Dallas Grand Hotel. As business grew, the assembly plant opened at Canton and Williams in 1914 then moved to the East Grand location in 1925.
The company began with two employees in 1909; by 1914, there were 80. And before it closed at the end of the 57-year operation, 3,000 employees were on the payroll. It was one of 15 plants operated throughout the country and could produce 650 cars and trucks each day with two eight -hour shifts.
“Built in Texas by Texans” was printed on a decal and placed on the back window of each car. The slogan really became a thorn in the side of the competition since no other cars were built in Texas at that time. Former Texans would write in to request the popular sticker to place on their Fords in adopted states. It was the only automobile assembly plant in the country to have a private trademark.
World War II brought many changes to the economy as Americans focused on the war. Ford made a contribution during those war years by manufacturing reconnaissance car-vehicles referred to as “Jeeps” by the military. The first model rolled off the assembly line Feb. 13, 1942. During the war, 94,345 Jeeps and 6,286 military trucks were manufactured at the East Grand Plant.
On Feb. 20, 1970, the plant was forced to close its doors because it could no longer compete with more modern car building operations within the company.
The Ford 500 Fairlane was the 2,000,000 car to roll off the lines and it went to Ed Maher, who sold some of the first Model T’s built in Dallas. With the closing of the Ford plant, $17.5 million in payroll was lost from the Dallas economy.
If all Fords built in Texas by Texans were set bumper to bumper, they’d reach 7,000 miles! No wonder Ford made such a contribution to the Dallas economy.
Chloie Clements, a longtime neighborhood resident, writes about our history. She and her husband, Dick, work with Henry S. Miller Co. Send comments and ideas to her at 6301 Gaston, Suite 820; FAX to 214-823-8866; or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.